The subject of an endless number of historic plays and movies, the stories surrounding Rome have permeated the depths of Western culture. From
Quirinale is the highest of the seven hills. Atop its summit is Piazza Quirinale, with its colossal statues of the horse tamers, Castor and Pollux and the
The Viminale sits next to Quirinale. It is smaller in size, split into two by Via Nazionale, and dominated by the huge
Esquilino was the home of the great poets Virgil and Orazio. It has three peaks, one of which is Monte Oppio, where you can find the ruins of
Celio & Aventino
Celio has a long promontory, called Monte delle Querce, as it was once home to many oak trees (querce). It is possibly the greenest and most charming of the seven hills and is home to Parco del Celio and
Situated between Palatino and Quirinale, this area was the religious and political center of the city during the Roman Era. It is dominated by the Michelangelo-styled
The seven hilltops offer a number of beautiful views, but the most breathtaking panoramas can be seen from outside the confines of the original Seven Hills. To the west of Capitolino and the Tiber River in the Vatican City, you can enjoy a glorious view of the city from the dome of
Trastevere is undoubtedly one of the most charming areas of the city, and one of the most crowded areas too - especially on summer evenings. Many people (foreigners and Romans alike) want to live in this highly desirable district, home of historic churches such as the
The "Eternal City" holds a fascination for young people, tourists, businessmen, pilgrims and anyone in search of history, art, culture, business or entertainment. This means that Rome's tourist season remains uninterrupted all year round and despite the ample choice of hotels, it is not always easy to find a room at the last minute, so make sure to book at least a couple of weeks in advance.
Centro Storico (Historic Center)
The majority of the luxury hotels can be found in the centro storico; however, there are numerous hotels in the city center to accommodate any budget. There are several excellent hotels on fashionable Via Veneto including the Ambasciatori Palace, the Hotel Majestic, the Westin Excelsior and the Eden. All of these hotels served as sets in Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita. The exclusive Bernini Bristol looks onto the attractive Fountain of Triton, while the Hassler Villa Medici, at the top of the Trinità dei Monti steps, is a constant destination for the international jet-set. Some other fine hotels include the De La Ville, the Grand Hotel Plaza (with its warm, early 19th-century feel), and the Grand Hotel de la Minerve by the gorgeous Pantheon.
There are also many small but very elegant hotels, often housed in old palaces, with well-kept and welcoming common rooms. Some even have balconies with views of the city, or well-tended gardens that are pleasant to relax in during the summer. Of particular note are the Valadier in Piazza del Popolo, D'Inghilterra and the Dei Borgognoni near the lively Piazza di Spagna.
Other affordable accommodations can be found around Campo de' Fiori, full of charming little piazzas with interesting nooks and crannies. Here you will find the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo and the Albergo del Sole. If you are fascinated by ancient Rome, then the Bolivar and the Richmond (with their unique views over the imperial forums), will make your stay even more magical.
Many of the traditional pensioni are privately run and manage to maintain a simple and friendly atmosphere. This makes them preferable to the big hotels, especially for prolonged stays. There are lots of pensioni to be found around the main railway station, Stazione Termini, such as Hotel Grifo for example.
Aventino & Trastevere
In Trastevere, the capital's most lively and colorful area, you will find La Cisterna. At Aventino (an oasis of peace among gardens, cloisters and attractive churches) you will find the comfortable Domus Aventina.
If you need tranquility and appreciate nature and greenery, you may prefer the Lord Byron, which is also particularly suited to the needs of businessmen and women.
Rome's beauty is accessible both day and night and the same is to be said for its vast range of entertainment, including theaters, cinemas, operas, discos; the list is (almost) endless.
The theatrical season lasts from October to May and it can often continue through the summer months. Most theaters offer a range of plays and productions, but there is one special exception; the Sistina is the undisputed home of musicals. There are numerous private, experimental and avant-garde theaters often hosting young artists and offering stimulating, thought-provoking works. The Abraxa Teatro, is home to an innovative company, who seek to express themselves and their ideas by using their bodies rather than speech. If your tastes are a little more traditional, historic theaters such as Teatro Argentina, Valle and the Nazionale offer high quality performances by famous actors and theater companies. The Teatro della Cometa and the Teatro Flaiano offer light comedies.
The cinemas in Rome have greatly improved over the past few years. Many new multiplexes have been built and other cinemas have been completely restored. The cinema scene in Rome today is characterized by a fair amount of small, independent cinemas and many large, modern multi-screen cinemas; these cinemas almost exclusively show commercial films. Some of the better known independent cinemas such as the Greenwich, the Intrastevere, and the Labirinto have united to form Circuito Cinema, a society interested in promoting innovative films, created in an attempt to confront the supremacy of the large distribution companies. Summer is definitely the most romantic time to enjoy a film. Many outdoor cinemas are set up from July to September, and show popular re-releases. The most famous outdoor cinema is Cineporto, near the Olympic Stadium. Of course, real cinema buffs will probably want to stop in at the famous Cinecittà, where many famous films have been made and where visitors can enjoy exhibitions and viewings.
There are an increasing number of venues in Rome offering live music by international artists from all over the world. Many high-quality performances by internationally recognized musicians take place at Auditorium Parco della Musica. The Trastevere quarter is the home of the historic Big Mama blues club. If you enjoy jazz music, the municipal Casa del Jazz and Alexanderplatz jazz club in Trionfale are recommended. If you’re a young music lover, check out who’s playing at Circolo degli Artisti, which hosts experimental pop groups like Animal Collective and Italian rock favorites. The most successful venues and clubs are concentrated in certain areas such as the Testaccio quarter, including places like Akab and Radio Londra.
Classical music lovers will be pleased with Rome’s varied concert season. There is chamber music at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and the Gonfalone organizes delightful baroque music concerts. The elegantly furnished and imposing Teatro dell'Opera offers the most important operatic season of the city, and in summer, performances are held outdoors in the enchanting Terme di Caracalla, and some of their shows are held in the Teatro Nazionale. Teatro dell'Opera’s symphony season also takes place at the Terme di Caracalla during the summer, while the Associazione Il Tempietto offers concerts throughout the year.
Discos are very popular among the glamorous Romans; the elegant, formal crowd, (politicians, actors and VIPs), often like to go to 1980s style clubs. The more "serious" clubbers frequent the Locale, which hosts live, new-wave, Roman bands. The no-holds barred Muccassassina night is at the Alpheus club. During the summer months, many discos relocate to the beaches of Fregene and Ostia, and where they go, the people follow!
Pubs & Bars
Discos aren't the only places that are popular on the weekend; pubs, beer gardens, restaurants and bars all teem with life. Many of these locali perform more than one function. For example, a cocktail bar may sell beer or allow you to surf the Internet before you hit the dance floor. Many cafés stay open late. The most popular and lively cafés are in the splendid Trastevere district in Via Veneto and Piazza Navona like the classic Caffe della Pace. Wine bars tend to be laid-back, informal and welcoming. These are great places to have a snack while sipping some excellent wine. Try the Trimani il Wine Bar. Pubs and beer gardens in Rome tend to have a British theme. They serve many different beers, and true to the good old "Brit" style, you can enjoy a game of darts with your pint! A good place to be "seen" is the Fiddler's Elbow.
The glorious Roman civilization had its origins in small groups of farmers and shepherds who settled along the banks of the Tiber, on the Palatine hills and the surrounding areas.
The most famous myth regarding Rome's origins recounts the Trojans' escape from their ruined city of Troy. With Aeneas as their guide, they reached Lazio, settled there and intermarried with the Latin people. Ascanius, son of Aeneas, founded Albalonga. His ancestor, Amulius took the throne from his older brother, Numitore and forced his daughter Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin. However, Silvia was loved by the god Mars and bore him twin sons, Romulus and Remus, who were thrown into the Tiber. The twins survived and were washed up close to the Palatine hills. A she-wolf raised the newborn babies, who were later found and adopted by a shepherd and his wife. An argument between the two brothers over who was the founder of the city was decided when Romulus murdered his brother, and Rome is said to have been established in 753 BCE.
The Roman republic was characterized by internal struggles that eventually led to the success of the plebeians (lower class Romans) and a new order of ruling class. The city expanded, and gradually, the whole of Lazio, the Italic peninsula and the Mediterranean basin were conquered. For almost four centuries, Rome concentrated her energies on building a strong, solid empire. Mighty conquests came thick and fast: from Sannitic and Tarantine wars, to clashes with Carthage and Syracuse. Rome expanded over land and sea to rule a huge area stretching from present-day Britain to present-day Iraq.
In the first two centuries of the Empire, Rome reached the height of its power, but the first signs of its downfall were already apparent towards the end of the second century. The imperial age opened with a long period of peace, and the unity of the empire was secure during the period between Emperors Octavian and Caracallus. However, this unity became increasingly unstable and eventually dissolved.
The fall of the Roman Empire is dated at 476 BCE. The causes of Rome's decline are numerous. The empire was unable to control its many subjects, and social and economic changes created instability as did the forceful arrival of the Barbarians. Christianity also began to spread and emperors tried to unite the empire using religion. Emperors wanted to have their titles sanctified and became Holy Roman Emperors. Emperor Constantine sanctioned the freedom and tolerance of Christians in his edict of 313 CE but he unwisely decided to move the capital of the empire to Constantinople undermining the Empire's power. The pontificate was re-established in Rome with Gregory XI in 1377. The power of the Popes increased as they were able to assign public offices, which led to serious corruption, nepotism, clashes and schisms. The centralization of the papacy and the church's power made a cultural impact on the city of seven hills. Rome became the center of artistic life. The face of the city changed, as palaces, villas, piazzas and churches were built. New streets were created and the Basilica of Saint Peter was restored. The sack of Rome occurred in 1527, and although the effects were disastrous, (all the artists abandoned the city), the wounds were soon healed and a new spirit of rebirth and development enveloped the city. More new districts and streets were created and the population began to move back to the city.
In the 17th Century, Rome went through a period of expansion and beautification, largely due to the work of two major artists, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini. Clashes continued between the nobility and the populace. Rome's fortune waxed and waned under Napoleonic rule; the church's estates were confiscated and divided amongst French officials and shrewd Italians. The city was subject to French rule until the fall of Napoleon III and the annexation of Rome to the Kingdom of Italy in 1870.
Rome became the capital of Italy in 1870 and the city received a huge influx of immigrants, which led to the rapid, and disordered creation of new dwellings. The situation did not improve with the advent of fascism. During World War II, the city was bombarded heavily by the United States, causing major damage, particularly in the areas of Verano and Porta Maggiore. The city was attacked during the period of German occupation until the end of the war. Following Mussolini’s execution, Italy chose to get rid of its monarchy and become a republic, and Rome was chosen as the capital.